Good liability risk management can reduce the chances that your business will be sued, but it can never eliminate the risk entirely. You or a member of your organization can make a mistake that injures someone or damages property. Your mistake could harm the reputation or interfere with the privacy of a customer, client, competitor or member of the general public. When such injuries occur, you may be legally liable to pay damages to someone who suffers a loss due to your actions or inaction.
Depending on the degree of harm and the number of people injured and/or value of property damaged, a lawsuit could bankrupt your business. Even if your organization is ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing, a determined plaintiff can keep you tied up in legal proceedings for a long time, entailing significant cost to defend yourself. Liability insurance pays the cost of your defense and protects your assets.
HOW ARE LIABILITY AND DAMAGES DETERMINED?
Everyone in society has a duty to take reasonable care that his or her actions do not injure others. The same rule applies to business entities. Not repairing a pothole in a parking lot, not lighting a dark stairway, failing to train workers how to do their jobs safely and legally or failing to provide directions for the safe use of a product can constitute negligence if a client, customer or member of the general public is injured as a result. The legal meaning of negligence is failure to exercise reasonable care.
If the parties do not agree to settle a liability lawsuit, there may be a trial. Or, the parties may agree to use some alternative means of dispute resolution, such as arbitration, and be bound by the arbitrator’s ruling.
The law of the state where the lawsuit is filed sets the rules for the determination of liability and damages. The amount of damages imposed in any particular case is, of course, in part a function of the economic losses the plaintiff can prove he or she has endured due to the defendant’s negligence. In some states plaintiffs may also be awarded damages for
WHAT KIND OF LIABILITY POLICY SHOULD I GET?
For small businesses the most efficient and least expensive way to purchase liability insurance is usually as part of the Businessowners Policy (BOP) which combines property and liability insurance in one contract. Alternatively, a business may purchase a Commercial General
WHAT TYPES OF DAMAGES ARE COVERED BY THE BOP?
Your liability insurer will pay damages that you are legally obligated to pay as a result of “bodily injury,” “property damage” or “personal and advertising injury,” up to the policy limits and subject to your deductible. Punitive damages are generally not covered, although there may be some exceptions.
Bodily injury means injury, sickness, disease or death; it may include injuries that are emotional or mental, such as post traumatic stress syndrome or humiliation.
Personal and advertising injury includes libel, slander or any defamatory or disparaging material or a publication or utterance in violation of an individual's right of privacy; infringing the privacy or copyright rights of another in your advertisement; wrongful entry or eviction, or other invasion of the right of private occupancy; and false arrest or wrongful detention.